Our school has been tying our SMART Goals into our student data which is connected to MAP scores (Northwest Evaluation Association). Each of my students take a Fall pretest and create a projected RIT goal based on their own progress. The Reading data has goals performances which focus on the three categories:
1). Word Origins, Expand vocabulary, Semantics.
2) Comprehension of a Variety of Fictional Texts.
3). Comprehension of a Variety of Nonfiction texts.
Goal performance #1 is connected to goals 2 and 3. Without knowledge of word origins, vocabulary and the semantics, students will not be able to comprehend what they read.
Following are some of the activities that I’ve chosen to do to enrich reading skills with my ESOL students in the Middle School and High School. Vocabulary comprehension is key for my students, and for this reason, here the following activities we have completed throughout this past semester.
1). Focus on Cognates. We have a word wall in my classroom in which we have compiled as we read through texts and passages. All my students are Spanish speaking, so we are constantly referring back to their L1 to make analogies to the Latin words and how they compare to the English words.
2). Focus on Parts of Speech. Earlier in the year, all my students created a Parts of Speech handbook delineating and writing examples of parts of speech (nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and prepositions). When we talk about vocabulary in a text, we always refer back to our handbook to decide which part of speech the word belongs to. We record the words on a word wall-in categories by their part of speech.
3). Focus on Prefixes, Suffixes, Roots. I have printed off DOE handouts which are taped to my student’s tables and are in the back of their ESOL folders. We constantly break apart the words we learn (after deciding what part of speech they are). We will change a word around and decided how the suffix changes the part of speech. For example, to oppress is a verb, oppression is a noun, and he is oppressed is an adjective. Here is an example of the sheets my students refer to from scholastic.com
4). Focus on Reading Comprehension strategies. Many of the activities come from the Virginia Department of Education English Enhanced Scope and Sequence Sample Lesson Plans. I’ve tweaked some of the activities to make them my own. For example, finding context clues in a story, we use sticky notes as we read. Students record the following on their sticky notes:
- Difficult Word
- Context clue(s)
- ? (what do I think it means)
- Definition: I provide the definition or we look the word up in their dictionary.
5). Focus on Dictionary Skills. My ESOL students must learn dictionary skills if they are going to conquer the SOL tests (paper-back dictionaries are only permitted). When we are participating in reading activities, I daily remind students to look up words in their dictionary. Using the paper-back dictionary requires numerous amount of skills (analytical to find the word, identifying prefixes/suffixes of the word, and decide which parts of speech you are looking for).
6). Focus on Applying Vocabulary to Sentences. I truly believe that vocabulary is best learned in context of a passage/text. In the same vein of thought, vocabulary must be used and written in a sentence. I can truly evaluate if a student understands the vocabulary word when they can use it correctly in a sentence. They demonstrate that they understand the semantics and the syntax.
Understanding vocabulary holistically and it’s complexities is directly tied into reading comprehension. For this reason, these are just a few of the strategies I have utilized to help my ESOL students this semester.